Nodland: The importance of electricity

Fmr. Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson, shares his thoughts on the importance of electricity.

Fmr. Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson

I remember when I was a young boy on the farm that we did not have electricity. We had a gas lantern in the kitchen that gave the most light. We also had oil lamps that were used in other parts of the house. My dad would also use a gas lantern in the barn when he milked cows in the winter time when the days were short of daylight. When we moved to town we bought a house that had electricity. That was something my mother, sister and I were very excited to have! But, the outdoor biffy and the coal shed didn’t have electricity. My visits to the biffy at night time and winter days were very far and few between!

Electricity has become an important part of our daily life and all economic activities in the world today. We have seen and have heard of the major blackouts due to major storms and other factors in the world. The polar vortex event that happened in Texas this past February was a traumatic event that caused major property damage and damage to the economic activity in that area. The drought this past summer has caused concern for some areas of the United States to have brownouts and possible blackouts due to the lack of water in major dams with hydropower systems such as the Hoover dam which supplies electricity to Arizona and southern California. Countries in Europe and China have experienced more incidences of electric power shortages also this past summer. Some of these countries have restarted their coal and gas plants that they previously shut down to be replaced with wind and solar plants.

The age of our electric power grid is also a concern. The grid produces and moves electricity from the generating source to different parts of the country. Different grid suppliers work with other suppliers to supply electricity for each other when there is a blackout in one area. The grid was designed to last 50 years. Many parts of the grid are past that age with some grid that is close to 100 years old.

The political movements of today to replace traditional sources of electricity from coal, natural gas, and nuclear generation to renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydropower has caused the increase in brownouts and blackouts. Experts in the power generation field are predicting more frequent and more severe events in the near future.

My major concern is that we are trying to move too fast with changing our electrical power source in the United States and also in other countries. I understand the concern for climate change issues with traditional power sources of electricity. But, we are finding ways to carbon capture and inject carbon back into the ground from fossil fuel sources. The abundance of coal, oil, and natural gas in the United States is tremendous. The power plants of these sources are built and proven to be a stable supply of electricity. Why would we ignore this infrastructure and try to replace it with an unreliable intermittent source of electricity such as wind and solar power? We also need to upgrade and replace our aging power grid of electrical lines before they fail and cause more blackouts in the country. Sometimes, our political leaders act before they research and study the problem. This issue is a major concern for our country! Let us quit playing politics with this issue and solve the problem with American ingenuity!

Related Topics: DICKINSON
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